When BASS announced it would add three Bassmaster Major tournaments in 2006, ESPN Outdoors senior coordinating producer Dan Bowen knew the stand-alone events with a $250,000-first-place prize each deserved the same level of heightened importance at the CITGO Bassmaster Classic.   

Auctions this week include a day of fishing with ESPN Outdoors host Mark Zona on a Michigan fishery, an authentic CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series jersey from Gerald Swindle and a signed tournament jersey from Elton Luce, Jr.

Inside BASS: Brauer’s Victory Goes ‘Back’ Aways  

Part of the credit for legendary angler Denny Brauer’s 16th and most-recent victory should go to a person most BASS fans won’t recognize: Paul Detwiler.  

  Detwiler is the Tyler, Texas, surgeon who performed Brauer’s fifth and final back surgery in 2004 and revived an illustrious angling career that had gradually declined since Brauer’s first injury in 1999.   

Despite BASS wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004, Brauer’s back woes had forced the power fisherman to change his style and left him wondering how much longer he would be able to compete. Then Dr. Detwiler came to the rescue.   

So Brauer’s triumph during the CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series’ Champion’s Choice, staged July 13-16 on New York’s Lake Champlain, was more appreciated than most people may realize.   

“It means a lot,” Brauer said. “It had been a couple of years since I had pieced a whole tournament together. You always start to wonder if the last win was going to be your last win, or will it ever come together right again at an event?   

“To me, it was very, very satisfying. Every win is satisfying. They are so hard to come by nowadays. The field is so strong. There are so many good anglers, both young and veterans. Boy, you just count your blessings when it comes around and it is your turn again.”   

With his health and career reinvigorated, Brauer now sets his sights on one of the sport’s most-important milestones: Roland Martin’s record 19 BASS victories.   

CLASSIC DREAMS. The 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Classic on Lay Lake may be seven months away, but that doesn’t keep an Alabama boy from dreaming about a home-state Classic.   

“Think big spotted bass,” Elite pro Gerald Swindle said. “I think it could be a fabulous tournament. I think it’s one of the best February lakes we have. I mean 20-pound sacks can be caught pretty easily …   

“The thing that makes those lakes good … is no matter how cold it gets, those spots bite. There’s no (cold) front up there. You won’t be able to come in and say, ‘It got cold and I couldn’t catch them.’ The fishing should just be wide open.”   

Swindle even likes the typical Alabama weather in February.   

“I think that’s what intrigues me so much because it could be up and down,” he said. “It could be freezing and then the next day you could be wearing a short-sleeved shirt. But the fishing could be fabulous. I think it’s going to show the true spotted bass that live in those waters.”   

WRAP RAP. Arkansas’ Kevin Short was, well, short one sponsor to wrap his Bassmaster Elite Series boat, so he came up with an innovative solution. He wrapped the main portion with a promotion for, an on-line tackle store operated by him and his wife, Kerry.   

His pink-colored BassCat featuring a cartoonish bird logo is hard to miss.   

Smaller portions of the wrap promote Camoclad Camouflage Systems, which makes sheets of vinyl in camouflage patterns, and the Arkansas Farm Bureau — his employer.   

NEW CORNERSTONE. BASS recently released its 2007 CITGO Bassmaster Elite Series schedule, but two Elite anglers weren’t waiting for that announcement to sign up a new sponsor.   

Maryland anglers Grant Goldbeck and Darrin Schwenkbeck are teaming up with Cornerstone Recruiting, a leading national construction and skilled trades recruiting company based in Bel Air, Md.  “We told Cornerstone that we’re committed to the BASS organization not just for a season, but a career,” said Goldbeck. “We want to grow together with them and they love fishing.”   

Cornerstone execs said they wanted local anglers to help build their brand, but are also looking forward to national exposure on ESPN2. “BASS fits our demographic perfectly,” said Charlie Dougherty, president of Cornerstone.   

Schwenkbeck already is signed up and will debut his Cornerstone jersey when he works the Bassmaster American presented by Advance Auto Parts in Charlotte later this week. He also used it to fish the recent CITGO Basssmaster Northern Tour, where the Silver Spring, Md., angler won the tournament.   

Goldbeck, who is finalizing his contract in August, said he intends to wrap his truck and boat with a Cornerstone design, while also keeping current sponsors BassCat, Mercury Marine, Izorline International and Panoptx Eyewear at the forefront of his business.   

WEIRDEST CATCH. Most fishermen have had a somewhat embarrassing situation similar to the one Byron Velvick experienced years ago on Theodore Roosevelt Lake in Arizona.   

“It was one of those shell rocks out West,” the Bassmaster Elite Series pro recalls. “My crankbait snagged the funniest-shaped rock and the shape made it so that it had the best fighting action. I was convinced that it was a fish. I even shouted at my partner to get the net.   

“As I was pulling, it was running sideways. When I went down to crank, it was sliding down; so it had that effect of going this way and that way. I knew that it was a bass and I’m saying, ‘Oh my God, it’s a good one.’ I’m fighting it and fighting it. Every time I came up and was ready to pump, it would pull down on me. I fought that thing all the way around to the side of the boat, got it up at the net … and it was a friggin’ rock.”   

DID YOU KNOW? In 2007, the nation’s top fishing organization will return to High Rock Lake in Greensboro, N.C. The May 17-20 Bassmaster American, a Major, will mark the first time since 1998 BASS has brought a pro-level tournament to the reservoir.   

As you may recall, High Rock Lake was the site of CITGO Bassmaster Classic in 1994, 1995 and 1998.   

IF I HADN’T BECOME A BASS PRO … Linda Owens, a competitor on the Mercury Marine Women’s Bassmaster Tour presented by Triton Boats, would rarely get a break as a police officer in Brandon, Miss. She is a 27-year law enforcement veteran who qualified for the championship event of the defunct Women’s Bass Fishing Association three times.  

THEY SAID IT. “Honesty and getting rid of egos. That’s a hard combination when you’re talking about an individual sport. It’s been almost like a marriage. I tell everybody it’s harder to find a good person you can trust on the road than it is a good wife. I’m fortunate I’ve got both.” — Bassmaster Elite Series pro Marty Stone on his longtime partnership with Gerald Swindle.